Installing Windows 7

If your operating system begins to fail or is infected by viruses or simply corrupted beyond an easy fix, then sometimes the best things to do is a clean install and start fresh. This guide will help you re-install Windows in just few minutes.
Things to know before you begin

Keep in mind that clean install does remove all your data, your programs and your documents. If your Windows OS isn’t completely damaged and you have access to it, then you can retrieve your data before beginning to perform a clean install. We will cover accessing your data from a Live CD in the next How to guide.

In order to install Windows OS, you will need the original disc that came with your retail OS package. If you do not have this disc, you may download a trial version from Microsoft and activate it using your existing license.

Booting from CD

Begin by inserting the CD in your optical drive and restarting your computer. The goal is to force the computer to boot from the optical drive and start the Windows 7 Setup utility. Most motherboards have quick key for accessing a boot menu. For Asus, it’s F8. For Gigabyte, it’s F12. Some other boards use Esc key, F9 and others. Refer to your motherboard manual to find out which key can access the boot menu. If your board does not have a quick boot menu, then you will need to change the boot order priority inside of the BIOS, usually entered by pressing DEL key. Your motherboard manual covers the instructions on how to modify the boot priority of your devices.

When the boot menu comes up, make sure that you choose the optical drive from the list. If you have multiple optical drives you may need to restart your computer and keep choosing until you guess the correct one. (Unless you already know)

Some boards will force the boot right away. Others will provide a message on the screen that says “please press any key to boot from cd/dvd…”. You must press a key when you see this message. You have a very short window, about 3 seconds, so make sure that you press a key when you see the message as soon as possible. If you miss it, the boot process is going to skip the CD and go look for the hard drives.

If you’ve done everything correctly, the Windows 7 will boot from CD and you should see a gray loading bar like below. If you do not see a gray loading bar that means the boot is not happening from CD and something’s wrong. Go back to the beginning and check all the boot options.  


The Setup

After Windows OS loads, you will be greeted with the following screen:

Choose your language, time and keyboard input and click Next. Then click on Install Now.

On the next screen, you want to accept the Microsoft Software License Terms, and click Next.

On the screen that asks you “Which type of installation do you want?”, choose Custom (advanced).


In the next part, Windows 7 will look for your available hard drives. If you have a simple drive setup, meaning 1 or couple independent hard drives, then you will see those drives listed with any possible partitions. If you have a more complex setup with RAID controllers and RAID arrays, you may need to go to the manufacturer website and download the driver for your Windows OS. You can then use the Load Driver button to load the appropriate driver for the controller.

If you do have multiple drives, then you have to be very careful about what you select in this menu. Disks that are shown, aren’t necessary displayed by name, but rather by a number allocated by Windows. Also, the size is displayed as well. You can use the size, as well as partition configuration to figure out which drive is which. Sometimes, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. If you have 2 1TB drives and they both have same partitions on them, you have to be really careful which one you want to select. If you have data on another drive, you may accidently erase it if you select the wrong drive.

If you’re installing Windows to a disk that already has Windows installed, you will most likely see 2 things:

Disk #: System Reserved Partition ~ 100MB

Disk #: Partition 1 ~ Remainder of the drive

Both of these will likely belong to one disc unless you have your drive partitioned in a more complex way. To modify or delete partitions, you will need to click on the button that says Drive Options (advanced). You can delete these partitions until you see:

Disk # : Unallocated Space

Then you highlight Disk # and click Next.

Keep in mind that if you delete any partitions in this menu, changes are permanent. Therefore if you did not back up your data, you will lose it if you delete any partitions. It is recommended that if you have several hard drives and you’re not sure which one is which, best thing to do is unplug those that you know your data is on. Of course, when you unplug your drives, your system must be off before you attempt that.  


Once you’ve selected the correct partition, you may hit next. Windows will then begin doing it’s thing by copying the files, extracting and finishing the installation by itself. Your computer may restart couple of times, make sure that you no longer boot from CD. If the system asks you to press a key to boot from CD, make sure you do not press any keys.

When Windows completes the installation, you will be greeted with a screen to type in your new username, choose a picture and setup a password.

Screen after that will asks you to insert your CD key. You do not have to do this now if you do not want to. You may proceed with the install without the CD key which will activate a 30 day trial. You can enter the key at any time while within Windows.

Wrap up

If everything went well, you should see your desktop. At that point, you can install all the drivers that came with your motherboard and other components. After that, you may use Windows Update to make sure that the Windows OS as well as any outdated drivers are also updated.

*Disclaimer: AVADirect and its Staff are not responsible for any damage to software/hardware, loss of data or personal injury by following our How-To guides. These guides are provided only as an aid to help you troubleshoot system problems. If you do not feel comfortable performing these steps its always best to send in your system to a local repair shop or contact an appropriate technical support line for additional assistance.